Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading
This is the best biography I have ever read. As a greatly distinguished poet hiself (accepting the Laureateship, whilst Larkin turned it down 25 years earlier), Motion understands the centrality of poetry to Larkin's life, and this is reflected in the book. Larkin's poetry was a continual reflection of his interior states, and so with great empathy and...
Published on 29 Nov 2005 by Mike Cormack

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Small Print
This cumbersome book needs to be read sat at a table and with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is otherwise perfect). This is of course not a star rating of the content but more likely an incidental argument in favour of the Kindle version. Having vowed to never purchase one of those things, I will undoubtedly return to studying the small print when I manage to find...
Published 11 months ago by SP


Most Helpful First | Newest First

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading, 29 Nov 2005
By 
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This is the best biography I have ever read. As a greatly distinguished poet hiself (accepting the Laureateship, whilst Larkin turned it down 25 years earlier), Motion understands the centrality of poetry to Larkin's life, and this is reflected in the book. Larkin's poetry was a continual reflection of his interior states, and so with great empathy and scrupulous research Motion brings these to light. He is unflinching about Larkin's worse aspects and does not absolve Larkin of his racism, sexism and political vituperativeness but explains the impulses from which they sprang. Motion also writes clearly and with no little finesse. A wonderful book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a worthy life more than worthily explored, 27 May 2012
By 
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This is an outstanding biography of a man who, paradoxically, had all sorts of unattractive views and kinds of behaviour but nonetheless, as delineated here, is hugely, fallibly human and sympathetic. The title 'A Writer's Life', is taken from Monica Jones, his close friend/companion/soulmate/lover over many years, and it is a just title - incomparably great as a poet, Larkin also wrote novels (two published, others unpublished or started and never finished), essays, reviews and stories. Indeed, writing was what drove him, along with a great love of jazz, reading and his work as the accomplished Librarian of the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull University. What would seem unpalatable about him - for example, his unwillingness - it was really inability - to commit fully in relationships, his selfishness, his dismissive views on many topics - had their root in self-loathing, so that at one and the same time he could lament his many shortcomings, as he saw them, and recognise that he was a 'genius'. In writing this, however, I am aware that I am over-simplifying to the point of distortion ; what the book makes clear is that this was a very complex man, and the depth and sensitivity of Motion's analysis goes a very long way to revealing what made him what he was. In other words, you have to read the book!! It tells a compelling story, but it also is frequently amusing. In his professional life as a librarian and in his personal life as a shy and sometimes remote friend, Larkin could be very funny, and often his turns of phrase, when Motion quotes him, are quirky and entertaining. There is expert analysis of the poetry, a good deal of quotation from poems we are unlikely to come across, an exploration of his unpublished novels (including the two lesbian romances he wrote as a young man), fascinating insights into his complicated relationships with the small group of women who were really important to him for long or short periods of his life - his mother Eva, Ruth Bowman, Monica Jones, Maeve Brennan, Patsy Strang, Judy Egerton. Betty Mackereth - his rise from the obscurity of the small regional library at Wellington near Shrewsbury to the pre-eminence of Hull where, finally, he had a staff of almost 100 (and where, supported by the Vice-Chancellor, he fulfilled an expert and committed role in the design and building of the new University Library) - and a good deal more. As the book ends with his approaching death and then the reality of it and the funeral, it becames very moving ; and by that time he is, of course, pre-eminent among British poets. Characteristically he dreads the offer of Poet Laureate and refuses it when it comes, partly through shyness, partly through the sense that his best years as a poet are over, though not without a feeling of guilt and also of regret that he has 'let Ted Hughes in' ; 'the thought of being the cause of Ted Hughes being buried in Westminster Abbey is hard to live with'. Motion, of course, knew Larkin well and met him often over a long period of time, but he never allows his personal admiration for the man, which in another context he has called 'love', cloud his assessment of the life and work ; this is a 'warts-and-all' portrayal. I don't think Larkin would have wished it any other way ; it is a wonderful book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterious Mr. Larkin, 6 Oct 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
When Larkin's diaries were burnt (at his request) "the Truth" about him became beyond human reach. Motion's book attempts to discover what might have held the contradictions of "Philip Larkin" together, always with a sensitive eye to the poetry and the prose. We are very unlikely to see a book as thorough as this about Larkin's life again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Small Print, 10 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This cumbersome book needs to be read sat at a table and with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is otherwise perfect). This is of course not a star rating of the content but more likely an incidental argument in favour of the Kindle version. Having vowed to never purchase one of those things, I will undoubtedly return to studying the small print when I manage to find the spare hours at the required peaceful table, magnifying glass in hand.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars All you need, 15 April 2014
By 
A. J. McGowan (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't imagine there being a need for another Larkin biography - this is nicely written, hugely informative, critically adept, and full of juicy details. Larkin is revealed as in many ways a difficult and unpleasant man, but not without redeeming qualities. Will you appreciate the wonderful poetry more for having read this biography? I think so. A little.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography., 11 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
I have just finished reading this book for the second time. I love it. I became aware of Larkin's work after hearing a programme about him on the radio a couple of years ago. If you like his poetry etc you will love this book, it shows the darker side of his character and I ended up liking him all the more for it. This is a keeper and I shall doubtless read it again and again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiny, tiny print, 1 Oct 2009
By 
maxbrod (ICN-NRT-SFO-JFK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
OK, I'm sure it's a great book and I had really looked forward to reading it -- that is, until I actually opened up this paperback edition and found that I would need a magnifying glass. The print is really tiny! This is a thick book, something like 500 pages. I don't see how my eyesight would survive if I were to actually read this. I'm actually now going to locate a hardback edition instead. Presumably that edition will have normal-size type.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thorough and compelling exposition of one of the poet, 3 Nov 2000
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This book takes us through (as you would expect) the life history of Philip Larkin, perhaps one of our finest, yet most misunderstood poets. We see the main protagonists in his life: Martin Amis & chums from Oxford in an almost Evelyn Waugh-esque setting. I was left with the feeling that this Man for whom writing was perhaps his only passion, was essentially a deeply confused (particularly sexually) but brilliant character.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mum loved this book, 27 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
Christmas gift for a poetry lover who found this biography of Larkin to be fascinating and full of insight yet well balanced overall.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a tome!, 22 Dec 2009
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
Has been heavily recommended to me. A bit put off by the length but will dive in soon ............
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xa218c174)

This product

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life
Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Sir Andrew Motion (Paperback - 7 Mar 1994)
13.49
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews